Lamont accuses First Minister of taking two weeks off during Grangemouth crisis


  By a Newsnet reporter
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has clashed with First Minister Alex Salmond after the Labour MSP accused Mr Salmond of having taken the last two weeks off during the crisis at the Grangemouth plant, and of not doing his job properly.
Speaking in the chamber during First Minister’s Questions after Mr Salmond had responded to her first question, Ms Lamont said: “You would think with a fortnight off the First Minister would even have a think about doing his job properly.”

An angry First Minister retorted that he had in fact been focusing all of his time trying to save the Grangemouth plant.

He said: “I have devoted with others a huge amount of time over the last two weeks in helping to save Grangemouth as a key part of the Scottish economy.”

Mr Salmond also referred to Ms Lamont’s own silence over the period of the Grangemouth crisis, which involved her own trade union Unite.

However the Scottish Labour leader caused uproar by claiming Mr Salmond’s comments on Grangemouth had been “unworthy”.

A condensed recording showing the Grangemouth exchange

The Grangemouth plant faced closure after its owners announced it was closing the petrochemical plant following an increasingly rancorous dispute with the Unite union.

This decision was reversed after the intervention of Mr Salmond who urged both sides to resume talks – the Scottish government also revealed it has started seeking out parties interested in taking over management of the site should Ineos walk away.  However the plant was saved when the union accepted conditions laid down by the plant’s owners that saw cuts to workers pay and conditions.

On Monday the union official at the centre of the dispute resigned, claiming he had been treated as “the enemy within” by management of the plant.

On Sunday Johann Lamont signalled that the Labour party should re-open its investigation into Stevie Deans after the Grangemouth owners Ineos handed over internal emails to a national newspaper, claiming they showed Mr Deans conducting Labour party business on the site.

The full exchange between the First Minister and the Scottish Labour leader

Meanwhile, in the same session of First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie has been called on by Mr Salmond to apologise after the Lib Dem MSP falsely accused Mr Salmond of not raising the issue of Human Right’s on his last visit to China.

Mr Rennie claimed the only thing Mr Salmond had done when in China was to “hand over a book”.  However the First Minister urged the Lib Dem MSP to check media reports of his trip which clearly detailed speeches and statements the First Minister had made when on his last visit.

Mr Rennie’s claim followed an announcement this week that Mr Salmond will lead a trade mission to China next month, undertaking a series of business and government meetings that will take Scottish firms to the heart of the world’s second largest economy.